Hot water is something that many families might not think much about until it's gone. Your home's hot water tank or heater is a necessity that allows you to do everything from wake up with a warm shower to keep your dishes clean. If you want to increase your hot water tank's longevity, you will want to perform regular maintenance on it. Here are a few maintenance tips for hot water tanks that will hopefully keep your unit running efficiently for a long time to come.
Periodically Test the T & P Valve
The T & P valve on your hot water tank stands for temperature and pressure relief valve. This valve is critical to the ongoing operation and safety of your water tank. This will function on its own during normal use, but you can conduct your own test to make sure everything is going as it should. The T &P valve is the only pipe sticking out of your water tank with a small lever on it. Pull up on the lever part way and then let go. The valve should snap back into place, but you will be able to hear some water gurgling as it moves into the drainage tube. If this gurgling sound starts to sound more faint, it could mean you have a drainage problem developing.
Flush the Water through the Bottom Valve
Ideally, you want to give your tank a full flush in order to remove sediment buildup. But a full flush will also require turning off the water heater, which may not be ideal. Instead, you can do a mini flush and remove the water at the bottom of the tank. Look for the drain valve at the bottom of the tank. It usually has a handle or a spot where a screwdriver can be inserted. Place a large bucket under the valve and pull the handle or turn the valve with a screwdriver. The valve will release a few gallons of water into the bucket and will hopefully remove a good portion of the sediment that was building up towards the bottom of the tank. Don't forget to turn the valve off firmly once the bucket is close to full.
Get Professional Help
While a mini flush can help, it is best to get your hot water tank professionally serviced at least once a year. This will involve turning the heater off completely and thoroughly removing and replenishing all water in the tank. This will allow you or the professional you hire an opportunity to fully scrub and clean all sediment inside the tank and is much more effective at giving you a clean start than simply flushing through the valve. A hot water tank specialist can also check other working parts of the tank, such as the pressure valves or the pilot light, to make sure everything will stay in good working order until your next maintenance appointment.
If you want to keep your hot water tank in good shape, you should periodically check the temperature and pressure relief valve and also do a mini flush through the tank's lower valve. But for best results, contact a local HVAC or hot water tank specialist for a full cleaning and maintenance plan.